One question about Trump is fundamental: Is he for real or is he the brand new puppet in the hands of the same old Uncle Sam? In other words, is he here to ‘drain the swamp’ as he says or merely to cover it up and rename it as ‘the beach’? Though his campaign branded him as an anti-establishment rebel, it is becoming obvious by the day that he is just another power-playing puppet, swimming the swamp he promised to drain.

After all, at the end of the day, what should we take more seriously; his populist rhetoric about change or the elitist credentials of those he has chosen for his presidential team? Does he expect to improve relations with Russia by arming the terrorists in Syria as he has just ordered? To be realistic, we should brace ourselves for some more doublespeak from the undisputed king of doublespeak, the doddering Uncle Sam who is no longer sure about his strength to bully the whole wide world but can’t let go of his hegemonic dreams.

Obviously, the harangue about ‘eradicating radical Islamic terrorism from the face of the planet’ is a new ruse to continue the same old hypocritical US-led war on terrorism. Under the guise of fighting terrorism, the US and its partners have spawned and spread terrorism across the world for decades. They have armed and trained terrorist proxies and played them like pieces of chess to achieve their geopolitical objectives. Will Trump change that? Not if he could help it.

Trump chose CIA headquarters as his first stop as the US president and told the masterminds and managers of the global terrorism industry how much he loved their agency and how he would like them to ‘lead the charge’. He has since added the CIA director to the National Security Council. He’s spoken to the Saudi king about creating ‘safe zones’ in Syria and Yemen. There’s talk about sending more troops to Afghanistan. Remember Obama when he said ‘change we can’?

Let’s not mistake it: Trump is merely the new strategy of Uncle Sam to deal with a changing world. His unpredictability is a tool that enables him to play multiple games of multi-faceted deception. Trump’s drama is designed to last as long as it takes for the scheming mind of Uncle Sam to create conditions for continuing as before. In an indirect way, Trump does create room for positive developments but any good that could flow from his presidency will have to be milked out of him with wisdom and force.

Interestingly, Pakistan’s politico-bureaucratic elite and metropolitan media pundits are following the Trump presidency as if it were not only the fate of American citizens but our fate as well that depends on it. Somebody should tell them that the US is no longer the sole super-power and Trump’s ascension as its leader is not the consequence of a violent revolution that toppled the American power structure. That, in 2017, finally our fate rests more or less in our own hands.

Lest we forget: Our world is changing faster than ever and Trump’s America is not leading the change. It is the emergent powers of China and Russia that are redefining the world order and shaping the future. Trump is just the new face of the same old Uncle Sam; now a cornered emperor ready to cut deals but still arrogant and deceptive. Trump’s job is to adjust the scope of imperial meddling by the US in a world that has no stomach for it anymore.

Whatever promise Trump holds for bringing positive change to the world, let’s be very clear about one thing: He is no fairy godmother come to grant our wishes. Uncle Sam knows that he needs to adjust to the multi-polar reality that defines the contemporary world and limit the scope of his unilateralist badmashi, even if it is only for the time being. To my mind, Trump has been tasked to negotiate the new détente, the red lines of the emergent order.

He would engage the world in new deceptive ways. He’d make and break alliances and try to create fissures in the emergent bloc of nations joining hands to resist the imperial diktat. He would fan notions of divisive identities and create chaos to distract American citizens and world leaders from real issues. He’s the new mask worn by the evil Uncle Sam who’s been doddering for a while now but, to our misfortune, refuses to die and leave us alone.

So friends, let’s not get too excited about Trump. He’s not about to rescue American citizens from the clutches of the wealth-extracting violent monster called Uncle Sam. He’s not about to make America great again, whatever he means by that. And he’s definitely not here to change the world for the better, not if he could help it. The world is changing for the better anyway. If anything, Trump would like to arrest that momentum.

When it comes to what his presidency holds for Pakistan, there’s little reason to be optimistic. In fact, we’d better watch out. Whatever gains we could expect to get out of it, we’d have to fight real hard for them. We’ll have to watch our back. We are lucky that we are not entirely dependent on the US. After decades of vassalage, the momentous changes on the world stage have created options for us and we don’t have to dance to Uncle Sam’s murderous tunes.

We must not fall into the trap of resetting Pak-US relations, which is another name for re-establishing our vassal status, and continue our close cooperation with China and Russia on Afghanistan and other regional and international issues.

If it were up to me, I’d build a wall between Pakistan and the United States, obviously not like the one Trump has ordered to be built on the US-Mexico border since we don’t have a common border, but more like a multi-purpose shield that protects us from its hybrid weapons of war.